#923. Should we have a day of rest? (19/10/23)
This week, as continue in our series, Luke - Exploring who Jesus is, we are considering what the Sabbath means for Christians. Today, we ask the question, should we have a day that’s set aside for rest and worship?
‘One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”’ (Luke 6:1-2)
Lesson: God has designed us to have a 1 in 6 rhythm to our week if at all possible.
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It seems to me that, in our increasingly busy lives, the idea of having a personal Sabbath has become a more popular topic. However, it’s often presented as an approach to ‘self-care’ rather than a day that’s includes devotion to worship and meeting with the saints. In his recent and highly popular book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer writes:
‘He [God] built a rhythm into the DNA of creation. A tempo, a syncopated beat. God worked for six, rested for one. When we fight this work-six-days, Sabbath-one-day rhythm, we go against the grain of the universe. And to quote the philosopher H. H. Farmer, “If you go against the grain of the universe, you get splinters.”…It’s been proven by study after study: there is zero correlation between hurry and productivity. In fact, once you work a certain number of hours in a week, your productivity plummets. Wanna know what the number is? Fifty hours. Ironic: that’s about a six-day workweek.’
Does the Sabbath 1 in 6 principle teach us to have a day of rest?
Is it God's will that we have a day in the week that's set aside for rest and worship? Many believe that God's institution of the 1 in 6 Sabbath principle is good for all people, regardless of their faith. At the creation of the world, we read of the introduction of the 1 in 6 principle:
‘By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.’ (Genesis 1:2-3)
As I've said in previous devotionals this week, I believe the Sabbath, for Christians, is our rest in Christ. However, I do believe that we are to, if we can, have a day that's set apart from our usual work and set apart for worship. I put this in the category of wisdom rather than a command from God. We don't see any teaching in the New Testament about having a day of rest. No epistle urges us, for our well-being, to take a day off. However, I believe that it's God's will that we seek to have such a day and seek to establish such a day with the influence that we have because we are always in danger of being enslaved to our work.
God has designed us to have a 1 in 6 rhythm to our week if at all possible. So, are we doing our best to have a day that's free from our usual work and is focused around rest and worship? Could we focus our minds on God's truth and abstain from our usual consumption of news and entertainment? Could we get organised so that any preparation for work doesn't encroach on this day?
To finish, here is what I consider to be the ideal and the second-best approach to a day of rest:
i. The ideal scenario is to develop a culture that observes a shared day of rest on The Lord's Day (Sunday), providing us with the opportunity to worship and build relationships together.
ii. The second-best option is to have a day of rest that is not necessarily shared with others, allowing time for recreation, but it may limit community building and communal worship.
COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
2. Icebreaker How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?
3. Study and pray together
This week we continued in our Luke series looking at Luke 6:1-11.
Please read Luke 6:1-11.
At the end of chapter 5, Jesus gave a parable about 'new cloth', 'new wine' and 'new wineskins'. This parable was given to teach that we are in a new era - a New Covenant. In this era - after the death and resurrection of Jesus - we have to learn to handle the Old Testament and The Sabbath in a new way.
In essence, for Christians, rather than keeping a day holy, we understand that the Sabbath was pointing our our rest in Christ. The author to the Hebrews writes:
‘Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it…Now we who have believed enter that rest…There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.’ (Hebrews 4:1,3, 9-10)
Discussion and prayer
What were the religious leaders so upset about?
What do these two Sabbath day accounts teach us about what it was permissible to do on the Sabbath?
What was meant by Jesus' words: “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."?
How are Christians to rest in Christ (See Hebrews 4:1)?
How are we to 'do good' and 'save life' (See v.9)?
How would a true keeping of the Sabbath help to glorify Jesus in our community?
Do you have any encouraging stories of how you've been serving, investing and inviting?
Let's pray for ourselves and our community together. Let's pray for the particular people that God is putting on your heart. Lets pray for the Holy Spirit to empower and direct us in how to Serve, invest and invite.